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CRA Releases Recommendations on Small and Rural Charities

(June 30, 2008) The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has released the final recommendations from its initiative that examined how the government can better serve small charities and those charities working in rural areas.

The report includes an ambitious action plan, developed jointly by a panel of representatives from the Canadian charitable sector and by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), aimed at helping small and rural charities meet their legislative and regulatory obligations more simply and easily. The report follows a series of consultation sessions and panel discussions held across Canada in the fall of 2007, as part of the CRA's Small and Rural Charities Initiative. Specifically, the joint action plan proposes activities to be undertaken by the CRA to:

  • provide tailored services to the sector;
  • reduce compliance burden;
  • improve awareness and access to information;
  • provide educational tools;
  • lead collaborative initiatives with federal, provincial and territorial partners; and
  • advance sector roles and responsibilities.

Sixty-six action items aimed at improving services and reducing the administrative burden for small and rural charities were identified in the joint action plan.

Easing Compliance Burden

Throughout the entire recommendations is an increased understanding by the CRA that it needs to recognize the distinct challenges of small and rural charities. To that end, the agency has stated it intends develop and deliver services that are tailored to the charities' specific needs, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach to regulating charities.

Part of that recognition includes several recommendations that examine ways the CRA can help small and rural charities meet their regulatory responsibilities given their typically limited volunteer support and professional staff. The CRA has indicated will work towards reducing compliance burden through a number of administrative and educational activities. These include:

  • providing charities with a glossary of technical terms;
  • increasing the amount of information about compliance requirements in outreach programs and products; and
  • distributing a new checklist tool to ensure that charities are aware of their reporting obligations, reporting timelines and how to maintain their registered status.

In addition, the agency will review, simplify and enhance the annual information return and companion guide, in order to reduce paperwork burden.

About the Report

The full report can be found here on the CRA website.

The CRA regularly consults with the charitable sector, as well as with other federal, provincial and territorial partners, to find new ways to enhance its services and administrative processes.

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